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Jimmy Carter: The President's Trip to Egypt and Israel Remarks on Departure From the White House.
Jimmy
Jimmy Carter
The President's Trip to Egypt and Israel Remarks on Departure From the White House.
March 7, 1979
Public Papers of the Presidents
Jimmy Carter<br>1979: Book I
Jimmy Carter
1979: Book I
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THE VICE PRESIDENT. Mr. President, Rosalynn, and friends:

You leave tonight, Mr. President, on perhaps the most important and difficult mission of your Presidency. You seek a peace vital not only to the people of the Middle East but to the people of our own Nation and to all mankind.

There is no challenge more urgent than seeking that peace, for as the Bible tells us, it is the peacemakers who are blessed. And you, Mr. President, Prime Minister Begin, and President Sadat are three such peacemakers.

Your efforts are even more than a pivotal moment in the history of the Middle East, for as a poet once put it, "Peace hath her victories no less renowned than war."

Each generation bears two fundamental responsibilities to the next: One is to lay down our lives, if need be, for the things that we treasure; the other is to work ceaselessly so that our children will not be asked to make that sacrifice. Both duties are sacred. Both require courage. Both are filled with grave risks.

There are statesmen whose tasks it is to go to the brink of war. For others, their courage is tested by the challenge to go to the brink for peace. In the end, the truest measure of our humanity is how we rise to the second challenge.

Mr. President, tonight, as 6 months ago, you meet that demanding measure. Please know that you have our love, our prayers. The prayers of all humanity are with you this evening as you search for that nobler victory, the victory of peace.

THE PRESIDENT. Nothing could give me more encouragement and a more gratifying sense than to have surround me here not only the Vice President but the distinguished Members of Congress.

I leave tonight on a new mission in the service of the oldest of human dreams-the dream of peace. And nowhere is this hope for peace more fervent, more alive than in the Middle East; nowhere is the path to its realization more difficult; nowhere might the price of failure be more terrible.

Peace remains the goal of President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin and of the great peoples of Egypt and of Israel. I know that they share my determination that these long negotiations will bring fruit.

The Middle East has suffered too much and too long from war and from the fear of war. Arabs and Israelis alike must now understand that bloodshed and deprivation and death can never settle their differences, can never be the path toward renewal and hope.

For the first time in a generation, peace in the Middle East has come within reach. President Sadat's visit to Jerusalem, his great and courageous reception by Prime Minister Begin, the reciprocal visit by the Prime Minister to Egypt—all opened the way toward possible progress. At Camp David, we then worked together for 13 days to forge a political framework within which their differences might be resolved.

Our negotiations have been and are based on the idea that peace can only be achieved when we meet the legitimate needs of all those who are affected by the conflict.

Real peace will not come with a single treaty, important as it would be. But a treaty between Egypt and Israel is an indispensable step toward the broader comprehensive peace that we all seek.

Negotiation is a long and tedious process—I know from personal experience. But there are times when making peace demands more courage than making war. I believe that President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin possess that special kind of courage and that they possess, as well, the vision and the statesmanship to redeem the great hope which they themselves have helped to create.

So, it is with hope that I depart, hope tempered by sober realism. As a friend of Egypt and a friend of Israel, we will do our best to help them achieve the peace that they have paid for in blood many times over.

In doing this, in seeking to lay the basis for a stable and a peaceful Middle East, we will also be serving our own deepest national interests and the interests of all the people of the world.

I know that in this endeavor, I take with me the prayers and the good wishes of the American people. In the difficult work that lies ahead, I will draw strength and sustenance from those worldwide prayers and from your support.

Thank you very much. Goodbye, everybody, I'm on my way.


Note: The exchange of remarks began at 6:10 p.m. on the South Lawn of the White House.
Citation: Jimmy Carter: "The President's Trip to Egypt and Israel Remarks on Departure From the White House. ," March 7, 1979. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=32011.
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